It’s not often that an Old Firm derby has little riding on it. However, when Celtic welcome their fiercest rivals to Parkhead on Sunday, that will be the unfortunate reality of the situation.
The Hoops have already relinquished their grasp on the SPFL, but they will be keen to exert their revenge at the very earliest opportunity.
On the chalkboard
At the end of the season, there could be plenty of change at Paradise. Neil Lennon has already walked and thus, a new manager will be coming to the club.
They could also see midfielder veteran Scott Brown depart.
The captain is out of contract at the end of the campaign and has already been tipped to hang up his boots and take up a coaching role.
Whether John Kennedy begins to faze him out between now and the end of the season remains to be seen. Brown has put in some very mixed displays recently. The midfielder scored a header and then delightfully assisted Albian Ajeti’s goal in the 4-0 win over Kilmarnock.
The 35-year-old impressed again a week later versus St Mirren. However, his performance have diminished again, something that was evident against Dundee United when Celtic’s midfield were made to look rather toothless.
Who would you prefer to start on Sunday?
On that occasion, he was hauled off with 12 minutes to go having completed just 77% of his passes, losing the ball 15 times.
Celtic will need to find a quick remedy if Brown departs. They have been linked with a move for Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy while Motherwell’s Allan Campbell is another to have been touted.
Though, by playing Ismaila Soro in the weeks to come, they could perhaps save themselves some cash.
Soro has been excellent when afforded a chance this term but the Hoops will surely be keen to know whether he’s up to the task of becoming Brown’s heir down the line.
Throwing him in this weekend in the Old Firm, therefore, would be useful. He is an eye-catching midfielder and despite his small stature, he isn’t afraid to get stuck into the tackle.
In fact, the £11k-per-week earner can be just as aggressive as Brown. Blessed with “explosive power” according to his former coach Ori Guttman, the Ivorian made as many as ten tackles against Lille in Europe earlier this season.
The 22-year-old won a further eight in the 2-0 win over Hamilton and in his last five matches, he has made 17 successful challenges. Thus, if anyone is well equipped to deal with the champions on Sunday, it is Soro.
This is the type of stage he needs to really thrive on to take his game to the next level. John Kennedy has only fielded him for 12 minutes during his stint as interim boss; that has to change.
AND in other news, Forget Laxalt: Celtic must unleash never-seen 19 y/o next term, he’s “very talented”…